Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov put on a skating clinic during Wednesday’s 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, free of charge.
He circumnavigated the offensive zone five times during a 40-second stretch midway through the game, making opposing players look silly as he repeatedly circled behind the net before narrowly missing on a wraparound goal.
It was a you-had-to-see-it shift from the 23-year-old forward in real time that seemed even more impressive when Fox Sports North broke down the replay for those watching at home.
“This is not on loop,” Wild color commentator Ryan Carter said. “He just circles the wagon this many times. Any kids watching at home, these are fundamentals right here.”
Kinda. While a player keeping the puck on his forehand might be a basic coaching point at the youth level, there was nothing basic about the way Kaprizov used his edges during his journey around the offensive zone.
He showcased his generational talent with his ability to effortlessly accelerate, even though his skates looked out of position to do so. It was shades of Connor McDavid with a little Sidney Crosby mixed in for good measure.
It even left the opposing broadcast team nearly speechless — and the Colorado announcers get to watch Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon on a nightly basis.
“Look at this! Look at the feet!” Avalanche color commentator Peter McNab said. “I can’t even imagine how talented somebody has to be.”
“He’s brought that to Minnesota,” Avalanche play-by-play announcer Marc Moser added. “They haven’t had a guy like this maybe ever.”
No, the Wild have not. As good as former star Marian Gaborik was in his prime, even he didn’t have the pure skating ability Kaprizov has shown in his short time with the team.
Asked about Kaprizov’s shift after the game, veteran Wild forward Zach Parise raved about his incredible skill set.
“He’s dangerous,” Parise said. “I think he tried to feather a pass through to (Jared Spurgeon) there through the middle and then he almost had that wraparound goal. He’s dangerous when he has time and space. He’s strong on the puck. If we get those scenarios, 3 on 3 or 4 on 4, he could have the puck on his stick for the whole shift.”
That was pretty much the case on Wednesday. Kaprizov added a pair of assists in the game, and now leads all NHL rookies with 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) this season.
As much as the legend of Kaprizov continues to grow, Wild coach Dean Evason had some constructive criticism for the Russian rookie postgame.
“We thought he should’ve shot five times instead of circle five times,” Evason said with a laugh. “His lateral movement and skating ability is elite. We just would’ve liked to see him rip a couple (of shots).”
This story has been updated to correct the photo.